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Book Discussion on The Pope and Mussolini

David Kertzer discusses his book ``The Pop and Mussolini.''

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Vatican 13, Mussolini 11, Rome 8, Hitler 5, Venturi 5, Ethiopia 4, United States 3, Europe 3, Italy 3, Us 3, Usx 2, Unquote 2, Pius 2, Nazis 2, Lafarge 2, Benito Mussolini 2, Providence 2, Pius Xi 2, Cardinal 2, Alzheimer 2,
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  CSPAN    Book Discussion on The Pope and Mussolini    David Kertzer discusses his  
   book ``The Pop and Mussolini.''  

    March 1, 2014
    8:00 - 9:04am EST  

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.. >> booktv continues with david kertzer. mr. kertzer examines the relationship between pope
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pius xi and italian dictator benito mussolini who both obtained power in 192. this is about an hour. >> well, thank you, it is a pleasure to be here. the book was just publish ad few days ago and great to have you here to help milan much it. the, let us begin by setting the scene. some of you are more familiar with this than other the. it's a scene i use in the prologue of the book to help set it up even though the scene comes near the end of the story, the pope's last days. the pope is found in his office. he is ailing, he is elderly, he is infirmed. he begs god to give him a few more days to live. he has something he needs to say and realizes he has very little time left on the earth.
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for years the pope had been in good health, known as the robust, mountaineer pope as a young priest, climbed many high alpine peeks. he was known as i am peer just, as demanding while scholarly and devout. he insisted on knowing every detail of everything going on in the vatican and making all the decisions but now every day was a challenge, every step caused him pain. he was unable to sleep at night. he had terrible varicose veins that throbbed pain through his legs. he had asthma that made breathing difficult. as he lay awake at night, he was troubled most of all, not so much by his pains, his aches and pains but by the thought that something had gone terribly wrong. in the day time, in his office,
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light would stream in through the three large windows that looked out on st. peter's square but now was evening. so he sat at his desk with a yellow lamp, light from the lamp on his desk and worked carefully writing in his hand, trembling hand, on these sheets of paper. the pope had summoned all the bishops of italy, there were over 300 bishops in italy, to st. peters for an occasion that was to take place on 10 days time on february 11th. february 11th, 1939 was the anniversary of the accords. historic agreement, between the italian government, between mussolini and fascist regime and vatican which established vatican city as a sovereign state and did away with the separation of church and state in italy and made the roman catholic church, gave it a
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privileged position as the religion of the land. so this was a big occasion, the 10th anniversary. all the bishops were summoned and mussolini's own representatives would be there, the king's son would be there, the world would be watching. it was a speech that the the pope saw as his last opportunity to get out a crucial message, a dramatic message. if i can just. i don't know how to work this. one button which doesn't seem to do anything. i'm just going to show you a couple of images to illustrate this -- yeah, that's what we are trying to do. i don't want to keep you there. this is a, shows had been so
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robust. this is in his last 10 days or so of his life what he looked like. if you go to the next image, you see both as younger men, at the time they both came to power in 1922, which is the beginning of my story. benito mussolini is 39-year-old. a rabble-rouser, a bully, aficionado of violence. he would come to power by leading his, kind of ragtag troops in a march on rome and through kind of extortion come to power at the end of 1922, just a few months after the pope came to power. the dictator came to depend on the pope and vice versa. this is the story i tell in my book. even though they seemed so radically different. the dictator would depend on the pope to bring him catholic support. of course italy was 99%
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catholic, although there were certainly anticlerics there. but for the most part the population very much identified with the catholic church. mussolini needed support of the pope for a couple of reasons. not just was the population catholic, but one of the largest opposition party that is he had to face was the catholic party which had been endorsed by the previous pope, the popular party. in fact the he head of the popular party at the time was a priest. so for mussolini to come to power and solidify his power he basically had to end the influence of the catholic popular party and the best way he could do this would be to get the pope to withdraw church support for that party and to embrace him. the other thing that the mussolini was concerned about was winning international legitimacy for his, what would be his dictatorship and for this too the pope would play a very important role.
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now though, although the pope had made this deal, beginning in 1922 with mussolini, he was, had long begun to have second thoughts, to have real doubts. mussolini, in recent years, now, back to the scene on his last days on earth, he, as he thought back on the last few years, mussolini seemed to be thinking he was becoming a god himself. and the other thing that really bothered the pope about mussolini was his increasing embrace of hitler, the man pope pius xi despised. as mussolini in mid 30s grew closer and closer to hitler, the pope grew more and more uncomfortable. in may of 1938 mussolini hosted hitler in rome, in italy for a triumphal visit.
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the pope discussed it, fled the vatican. went to his summer retreat gandolfo, closed vatican museum, refused to light the vatican and showing his displeasure, yet he was, this was distraught at the kind of reception that italy was giving to this man that he saw as the enemy of christianity, adolf hitler. two months, i think i have a not here of, get to the next slide, of the visit of hitler. there we are. two months after hitler's visit, which you see portrayed here, the visit in rome alongwith mussolini and hitler you see the king, victor emanuel iii. two months after was the dramatic and shocking announcement of the new racial policy by mussolini, july 1938.
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the jews in italy were shocked to hear that the official position of the government was there was a pure italian race to which the jews of italy who of course had been there from before the time of jesus were not part. the pope was very upset. he was particularly upset because this seemed to show the increasing closeness of the fascist italian dictator with the nazi leader. people around the pope, as he was becoming distraught, and this is an important part of my book, become worried, because they actually are very pleased by the deal that has been made between the vatican and the fascist regime. pleased by all the benefits that the church has gotten from mussolini, and worried that the pope in his old age, lashing
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out, might damage those relation s. at his headquarters on the other side of the tybe per river, only a couple kilometers from the pope, mussolini raged against the pope. he had earlier, mussolini himself was a rabid anticleric background and, yet he had made this deal with the pope because he saw it in his interests and the interests of the fascist dictatorship but he had no personal sympathy for churches or for clerics. he would tell people at this time how dare the pope express criticism of me. look at all i have done for the pope. he said, to one of his, his people of his staff but also to his lover, he had a young lover at the time i will come back to. italians still go to mass in large numbers because i tell
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them to. if priests aren't being forced to drink castor oil, if churches are not being burned down it is because i prevent them from doing that, otherwise they would be doing that. if there is a crucifix in every classroom, in every public school in the country it's because i ordered it to be there. it was not there before me. if priests are teaching religion, the catholic religion in all public schools from elementary through secondary schools in italy it is because i made them. they never did before. if large state subsidies were going to all the catholic clergy from the local parish priest to the bishops it is because i ordered it. how dare the pope think of breaking the alliance that has been so profitable for both our sides. so this, while going on the one side of the tiber, getting back to the vatican, we go back to
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the scene late january night in 1939, the pope is in very bad shape. the once hearty pope is now emaciated. his face is shrunken. he is desirous of one thing, this is clear to everybody around him. he wants to give long enough to give the speech he is preparing to the bishops of rome. in that speech i found out from examining mussolini's correspondence, mussolini the dictator was convinced this dramatic speech was going to be used by the pope to denounce him, denounce his embrace of hitler and denounce the embrace of racial laws and to denounce fascism. in the week remaining before the speech though, the pope began to lose his strength further. unable to stand, he took to bed. on february 8th, worried that he might not have enough strength to give his speech or
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his voice might be so feeble it would not be heards he ordered the vatican printing office to make 350 copies of his speech to hand out to each of the bishops as they came to the event on february 11th. on the early morning of february 10th, the day before the dramatic speech, his breathing became further labored. attendants fastened an oxygen mask around his face being careful not to dislodge the white skullcap on his head. the high officials of the vatican were called to his bedside, realizing the last moment may be near. and in fact early that morning, february 10th, he died, one day before he would give that speech. so his last wish to god to keep him alive was not answered.
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of course the timing also led to various conspiracy theories in italy which we could talk about later if anyone is interested. across the tyber, news news newe pope's death mussolini grunted in relief. a sore had been lifted. , healed. his only worry seemed to be that the ritual activity that is he might need to show up for might interfere with his plans for his latest coupling with his young mistress, claudia pitachi. but there was one thing very much bothered him. this we know from the fascist side of the archives are available now. he had a thick network of spies in the vatican that provide us with invaluable insight into behind the scenes activities in the vatican, in the '20s, especially in the '30s. these reports in recent weeks
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warned him that the pope was about to give a speech denouncing him and facism and his embrace of hitler. he was very worried. he heard also copies of the speech had been made and he thought, on the one hand, the pope is no more, so there is a relief there but on the other hand what if the voice of the now deceased pope were to be heard from beyond the grave by the distribution of his last text that had meant so much to him? so mussolini sent his ambassador to see the one man he had reason to believe would help him as he had many types in the past when the pope seemed to be about to turn against the fascist regime. the man he turned to was pacelli, cardinal secretary of state. been secretary of state, the number two man of the vatican
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since 1930 and he told him what he wanted done. he wanted all copies of pope's speech shredded. pacelli immediately ordered the destruction of every copy that the vatican printing office had made of the speech. a few weeks later a conclave was held. masses of people as usual gathered in st. peter's square looking to the chimney for signs of white smoke which they saw not very long into the deliberations. when the telltale white smoke came out of the chimney, the cardinal deacon walked out on the loggia in front of st. peter's square, from st. peters, and announced we have a pope and the new pope showed out, a tall, thin, bespectacled figure, clothed in the white papal robe and
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bejeweled tiara. he gave his blessing. pacelli would take the name pi usx ii honoring the moon who put his trust in him. this is the ritual takes place when a pope dice, the chamberlain,pacelli, who had been the secretary of state also filled the office of chamberlain, who is in charge of the pope's effected in charge of vatican on the death of the pope. he has a silver hammer, mallet, where he hits the head of the dead pope, saying his name, christian name, not name as pope. when he does not respond, pronounces him officially
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when he was card nam in 1938. and next slide shows pacelli ordination as pope pious the xii. this sets the stage a bit for our discussion. this is 1939. let's go back to 1922, when these two younger robust men come to power in the same year. the pope was not only vigorous as i mentioned but he was also known as something of a tyrant. cardinals would literally, to prepare themselves for a meeting with the pope get on their knees in a private chapel and be quaking, praying to god somehow see them through without the pope yelling at them or finding them wonting. the pope, and reading some of these accounts, first-person accounts of these meetings with the pope where the pope would turn purple with rage, pound on
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his desk, and keep yelling at, for example, a foreign ambassador to the holy see where he has been unhappy with something that his country has done. but the pope also had a highly-developed sense of the dignity of the papal office. kind of interesting today with pope francis making news in taking very symbolic actions that seem to be peeling away some of that symbolic activity. for example, pius xi, the day he became pope, insisted his brother and sister who he had been close to, referred to him as your holiness. he also, for the 17 years he was pope, never allowed anyone to sit down at the table when he ate, not even a cardinal. and this by the way is different than some of his predecessors. so it wasn't that he was continuing tradition that all of his predecessors had obeyed.
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the pope's vision of the church and of the world was basically a mid evil one -- medieval one, one true religion, roman catholic church and all should bow to its teachings and line of authority. mussolini as i alluded to before, was in many ways his opposite. of course the anticleric, thible rouser, the person who valued violence but also had a notion of a new society. so his was certainly not a medieval vision. it was a new italy and new italian. mussolini before he came to power, he had first been a radical socialist. he had been basically the leading radical socialist in italy. he was the national editor of the socialist daily newspaper and it was only with the outbreak of world war i that he
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had a division with the socialist party over the war. he wanted italy to enter the war. and he founded the fascist movement. when he founded the fascism movement, formally founded in 1919, it was too anticlerical. it called for confiscation of church property and endorsed separation of church and state. i think we can, i see the, i think we already got that. this is the, i will come to him in a second. but you get, if we go to the previous image please. here, one after here. the, you bottom some sense of mussolini as the fierce character. the pope did not like to travel, did not appear at public rallies, anything like that where he used to particular after john paul ii. the pope is globetrotting and giving mass rallies. this is not anything that this pope did. he in fact from 1870 when italy
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was conquered rome, remember that italy only came about in 1878 with, at least it was completed in 1870 when italian troops stormed the walls of city and pope is defeated, papal states are no more. the pope retreats to the vatican. from 1870 until mussolini made peace with the church in 1929, 59 years, no pope ever left the vatican, the tiny little group of buildings in the vatican. okay. so the, to understand the impact that this relationship had, this deal that was made between the pope and mussolini had, you have to understand that long period of time where the position of the church was, the italian state is illegitimate. the italian king is excommunicated. the prime minister is excommunicated. no good catholic is allowed to
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run for parliament. no good catholic should even vote for parliament that would be recognizing legitimacy of the state that destroyed the papal states and tyke away the rightful role of the pope. so when mussolini comes to power, despite the fact that the pope had no illusions about mussolini. mussolini didn't have a religious bone in his body but he as the pope said to some of his associates, god works in strange ways. and god can choose as his instrument a person who doesn't seem to be godly and in fact the pope would famously refer to mussolini as the man sent by providence. the man sent by providence to restore the rightful central position of the church in the italian society and end separation of church and state and end freedom of religion and so forth. mussolini also shared with the pope a, of course preference for
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authoritarian reg keeps. the pope had no love of democracy. thought in fact multiparties were a problem. he didn't want to negotiate some deal with a prime minister and then find out that the next year there was a new parliament elected and they gave it up. so there were a whole set of reasons why this deal might be made. now let me just talk a little bit about one, i think important aspect of this period that's not very well-known and now comes out. i have should say the archives of the vatican were only recently opened for the papacy of pius xi in the 1920s and '30s. 2006 they were opened. we also have the various fascist archives. but what we can now do triangulate documents from the fascist secret police, from mussolini archives, from the foreign minister's archives and vatican, jesuit and other church archives now only recently
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available. as we put thieves together we get a picture and richness of understanding we never previously had. just to give you some idea of before we get back to those last fraught years how this relationship worked and here if we can go back, there's a picture a few slides i think ahead of a jesuit, this one, yes. this is absolutely crucial figure in this history who has never before been understood or even known about. nothing, hardly anything has been written about his role yet it was absolutely central. shortly after mussolini comes to power within a couple months the pope and mussolini agree they need a private intermediary and private envoy, they choose this man a prominent roman jesuit venturi. he would meet one-on-one with mussolini over 100 times in these years. basically once a month.
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no one outside of the inner circle of the fascist party met that often with mussolini. before going to meet with muse lienly he would go to the vatican and meet with the pope. what was he doing? he was carying each month new demands by the pope for mussolini to use the repressive apparatus of the fascist state to benefit the church. these are the examples go to interest from trivial. for example the pope was concerned about things like female modesty, modest clothes, bathing suits, night grounds that showed too much of female body. and insisted that mussolini do something about this. this was not the kind of issue mussolini had problems with actually as you may know. but even, but this is as i say begin with a trivial example. but there are other examples. for example, ex-priests, there were quite a large number of people who leave the priesthood, even back then, then to get
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marid some for other reasons. own way to support themselves, getting jobs, teaching local schools. they were only literate people in some rural southern village. the pope would, this was never allowed however when the popes were in power in the papal state because it was regarded as a scandal to have a ex-priest seen in public. and so one of the constant demands the pope made were in cases where ex-priests were teaching that mussolini be sure they are fired. in fact the latter accords includes as one of its articles specifying no such ex-priest could be allowed to teach in public schools in italy. another thing the pope was very concerned about were proselytizing. he said at one point in the meeting with mussolini the thing he regarded as gravest problem in italy, protestant proselytizing in italy. calling on mussolini through
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vern turery to confiscate protestant literature and so forth. so one of the interesting things as i read through these archives is that this kind of irony that the pope is calling on the fascist dictatorship to take repressive action that actually mussolini doesn't want to take. but there did come a time as i mentioned in my beginning scene where the pope begins to have second thoughts about this collaboration. it probably begins with mussolini decision to invade ethiopia, which some of you remember happens in the fall of 1935. in late august in 1935 as mussolini is making noise about is intention to invade and league of nations is threatening a boycott an international isolation to italy the pope in remarks unrelated audience international convention of nurses adds that for italy to
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invade ethiopia would be to launch a quote, unjust war that would be terrible. well, the people around the pope, around pacelli, secretary of state were horrified because the text of the pope's remarks were supposed to be published next day in the vatican daily newspaper, romano, and they're convinced that this will antagonize mussolini who is trying to drum up public support for the idea of a war on ethiopia. in the newly available vatican archives we have essentially the diary of the undersecretary of state under pacelli who tells us what he did. he says that evening i took the transcript of the pope's remarks before they went for publication and he said he performed a quote, surgical operation, unquote. and now i'm quoting from his diary, account of what he did. this is the undersecretary of
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state in the vatican, quote, here i cut a word, there i add another. here i modify a sentence, there i erase another. unquote. and the text of the pope's remarks that appears the next day in the vatican newspaper have no reference to his opposition to the invasion of ethiopia. now it is in the years following the ethiopian campaign that mussolini began increasingly to embrace hitler. they had a very peculiar relationship. we can talk about more later. of course hitler saw mussolini as his role model. in the 1920s he kept a big bust of mussolini in his office in munich. the beer hall was modeled on the march on rome and so forth. but, after he comes, after hitler cops to power mussolini initially views him, he is pleased, he is is flattered by
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the fact he is looked up to by this new chancellor of germany but he also thinks hitler is a bit crazed and has his doubts about hitler. even greater doubts about the people around hitler some who he refers to belonging in an insane asylum. now, the height of this drama comes as i mentioned before with the racial laws that come into effect in the late summer and early fall of 1938. the racial, i think i have an image of what some of them are here. yeah, here. this is actually from a publication that began to, was put out by the italian government as part of its racial anti-semitic campaign. it has a lot of i willlous stringses because it is -- i willlous stringses because it is supposed to be a way to elicit popular italian support for the
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anti-semitic campaign. you can't read this, you get idea of images. what dot racial laws mean. some may have seen the film of guarden of vincini portrays this. all jewish children kicked out of school. jewish teachers were fired. jewish professionals could no long every practice profession. members of national honor society who were jewish were thrown out so forth. that came as a shock to the jewish community and world community. unlike nazi and hitler, facism and mussolini had not been previously known to be anti-semitic. in fact there why jews who were fascists. according to the most widely believed account today, certainly in italy, the church fought heroically against the racial laws as did the pope. yet as i show in my book this is in fact inaccurate and the
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campaign, if you read it, the large part of the material it uses it borrows from the church and the unofficial publication of the vatican, the jesuit publication, that pages have to be approved in advance by the vatican secretary of state, through this period, through this time are calling for withdrawing the equal rights that jews were mistakenly given in the 19th century. in the middle of august, the newspaper, daily newspaper of the vatican publishes an article saying there need to be restrictions on the pernicious influence of the jews. this article from the vatican daily newspaper is taken up by fascist publications throughout italy to justify the anti-semitic campaign but this said the pope himself was uncomfortable with the racial laws for a variety of reasons. the pope was not concerned about any threat from the jews of italy. there were very few jews, the
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italian jewish population was .1 of 1%. about 35,000 people. the pope was particularly concerned because it seemed like another sign that mussolini had decided to cast italy's fate with the nazis and with hitler. what i discovered is that however, despite the pope's reservations he was convinced to make a deal, and this was not known until the recent opening of the archives and still known by very few, to make a secret deal. that is the pope made a secret deal with mussolini having to do with the imposition of the racial laws before the racial laws, the anti-semitic laws were introduced. i think i have a text, yes. not going, just to give you an idea what these documents look like, there is actually the text of the deal that venturi, the jesuit envoy of the pope, works
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out with mussolini and signed by mussolini and the deal had two parts. now mussolini, take a step back, knew how to put pressure on the pope. he bragged to hitler about this. i really know how to handle the pope. take lessons from me. and one of his, the lessons he knew that was if there was one thing that especially dear to the pope, important to the pope, it was the catholic organization known as catholic action. this is the organization that's organized on a capillary basis down to the local parish where the laity under eclose as tick call control what the pope saw as christianization of italian society. when mussolini wanted to put pressure on the pope he knew all he had to do was take action against catholic action. he recently knowing the pope was upset about these racial laws, decided to announce that you could not be a member of fascist
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party and a member of catholic action for example. and began to use fascist publications to instill the sense that catholic action was antifascist and this, thus rousing the anger of the loyal fascists, sometimes to do violent acts against local catholic action groups. this is the context which the pope sends venturi to make a deal with mussolini. in sending him to make a deal about anti-semitism, one thing i discovered too in these recently available documents is that venturi for years been trying at his monthly meetings with mussolini, been trying to convince him of the jewish threat. pope had not but his envoy and the pope was not sending his envoy to make this argument with mussolini but he using the opportunity. he would give him various anti-semitic material. he would argue time and again the jews were not only the enemy of christianity according to
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venturi, of the church but they were enemies of fascism and mussolini needed to take steps against the jews. he had begun to make these arguments by the mid 1920s we now know. this is a man that the pope sent to make a deal with mussolini and in this deal. there are three points. deal. i'm showing first point here. two and three were the quid pro quo. two and three said that if you go along with one, we will take the pressure off catholic action. we will withdraw the idea that you can't be a good fascist and good member of catholic action and so forth. what is one? one is as you see here is, has to do, it says, problems of racism and judaism. that is what its title is. basically sets out disagreement. the pope agrees that as long as the new anti-semitic rules are
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no worse on the restrictions on the jews applied when the popes were applied in the papal states, ghetto in rome and so on, that the pope will ensure that not only he will not speak out against the anti-semitic campaign, the racial laws, but no priests will either. this document, it's a fairly explosive document as you can imagine and since it has been discovered, and i have a copy of it as you can see, then some of the first inkling of this document came out there of course has been a strong reaction by defenders of, of this narrative that the church was long a opponent of racial laws and against anti-semitism and basically tried to deny, this is what in fact it is. we not only have this document but we have a whole series of documents that talk about the meetings between the pope and venturi as this is being
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negotiated. and later interestingly we see the pope has doubts about this agreement and the people around him work feverishly to prevent those doubts from interfering with the continue the backing of the fascist regime by the church. i think i have a picture, the next picture is back to, well, pacelli. we'll come back to him. he is now secretary of state in the period i'm talking about, the number two, before he becomes pope and he is certainly central to these efforts as well. let me just before concluding just give one other glimpse into what was going on here. in the same period in august, with the mussolini, august '38, mussolini basically drafting the anti-semitic racial laws and worried about what the pope's position will be he asks the ambassador, the italian ambassador to the holy see to help him. in addition to pacelli there is
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one man they thought would be particularly helpful. the world head of the jesuit order. a pole. he has been head of jesuit order since knit 15. we know from the correspondence from the italian ambassador to the holy see, mussolini's ambassador he tells us why he went to this man. he said i went to see him because i knew of his, quote, implacable loathing for the jews. and goes on to say the jesuit superior general blames jews for all of europe's problems. it is a very dramatic meeting. we have the account of the italian ambassador in this meeting in early august knit 38 where -- 1938. what the superior general of the jesuit order tells mussolini's ambassador, we're working, doing all we can to prevent the pope from breaking away from the party line, speaking out against
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the racial laws, speaking out against anti-semitism. he says pa chilly and i, the secretary state and i are at wits end. we don't know what to do. the pope is losing his mind. this is how the jesuit general puts it and doesn't know what he is saying anymore. he is putting the church at risk. everything we built up with the alliance with the fascism regime is being put into jeopardy. this is very briefly a little flavor of the story we can now tell with the newly available archival evidence. i conclude i see pius xi as a tragic figure myself. he was not prepared for the job he ended up having to do which of course no one could foresee the advent of fascism in these reg keeps in europe. his medieval conception of short
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and way the world should operate did not prepare him for where his various accommodations with these various thor tehran regimes might lead. he also a tragic figure for the reason i mentioned that the people around him were working day and night to thwart him from what he knelt -- felt was his prophetic mission to speak out against this. for his part mussolini never comfortable around priests or churches. he would not allow a picture of himself with nuns or amongs to be published for instance. monks. their rip was strong for years, and they were very different and saw only one meeting during all that time face-to-face would not and well, the pope who had hailed mussolini as the man sent by providence to save the church in italy ended up as we see
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having a very different view of the dictator. muse menially was -- mussolini was no happier. in the last months of the pope kept complaining not only to his mistress but to the high bigwigs of fascist party that pope pius xi was a disaster. thank you. [applause] i'm happy to take your questions. yes? i think you are supposed to come to the mic so everybody can hear. thank you. >> very interesting presentation. i would like to ask, you alluded to earlier on you about you made it very explicit toward the end that a lot of this pressure to the pope was from jesuits and that some of the anti-jewish
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propaganda was in roman catholic but more particularly jesuit newspapers and maybe the envoy was acting of his own volition and not as strucked by the pope. was there a particularly strong, you know, strain much anti-semitism in jesuit, in italian jesuit orders throughout the '30s? how did this sort of develop and to what extent was it that influential? >> yes. for example, there was a big difference between jesuits in the united states and jesuits in italy. in the u.s. there was important component of the jesuits who were might say progressive, for example, fighting for racial justice in the united states in this period in the knit '30s. the pope, one thing i didn't mention -- 1930s. the pope after hitler visits in 1938 in june, has a secret meeting with american jesuit
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happens to be in rome, father john lafarge. father lafarge has been a important advocate for racial harm any and racial justice. in fact in the united states he had a book called, racial justice, which had come to the attention of the pope. the pope without telling cardinal pacelli arranges to meet father lafarge, the american jesuit and asks him to draft encyclical denouncing racism and anti-semitism. that too i didn't mention to complicate the story, that too was on the desk, draft of it was on the desk of the pope when he died and that too was buried by pacelli. but, just give you another illustration of this, during the ethiopian war the catholic clergy in italy were big supporters of it but in the jesuit american magazine, called american, many you may know it, excellent publication, an article appeared was critical of
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mussolini and ethiopian war. mussolini sends his ambassador to meet with the superior general of the jesuit order and says you have got to do something he says immediately. he fires the editor, long-time editor of america and replaces him with a pro-fascist editor. so this is what is going on. the jesuit journal is highly influential. it is seen as the, put out by a group of italian jesuits. it is seen as the unofficial voice of the pope and from the very beginning moved earn anti-semitism in the 18 '80s it had scores and scores of viciously anti-semitic tear, some of which is basically picked up by the gnaws is is as -- nazis as well. it is not a very pleasant story what was going on among the italian jesuits at the time. >> in the last speech to the bishops, does it survive? what does he say? >> yes. well there is a difference between novel and i guess
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non-fiction. we now, after 2006 have gotten to see it. it was buried, as i mentioned, i said all copies of the printed version were destroyed on orders of pacelli at the request of mussolini but the original, handwritten pages were not, he did not destroy those. he just secreted them. it was only after his death, pope pius death in 1958, pop john ii released part of the text and opening of archives we now have the full text. would like to be a ringing denunsyization of the type that mussolini feared, the real break with facism. it is not that, but it is speech muse lien any would not like to hear. it warns the bishops of italy the fact that there are fascist spies everywhere. they have to watch what they
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say. it again complains that about nazi racial ideology and so forth. so it is something that mussolini was very happy never got spoken but it was not quite as dramatic, certainly not as dramatic as he feared. yes? >> what question, david, generates the most curiosity for you right now? what would you like to know? what would you like to explore? what would you like answered? >> oh, that's a good question. the, i think we've learned a lot. i feel i have a good understanding now of what was going on but there are, there are aspects, you know, that still are somewhat obscure. i think understanding, really getting, to sit with the pope and understanding his, his for example, his view of the jews i
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think is still not entirely clear. how could he agreed, even if somewhat reluctantly to that deal he made in mid-august 1938 to go along with the racial laws as long as we got this favorable treatment of catholic action? there is some conflict there we don't quite understand. we know how the various people around him every time he would try to turn against it would try to convince him not to but i don't fully, i think understand that. i'm not sure, so i think that would require a conversation with him. i don't think there are probably any documents that we haven't seen that exist that have been hidden out. one thing however along the lines of the question is, pacelli kept a diary or kind of log of his daily meetings with the pope and biweekly meetings with the various foreign envoys to the holy see. so when i found out about this, this is one of the big surprises actually when the archives were
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open in 2006, the first thing i went to look for was his diary for this period, for the period 1938 where so watches happening and imposition of the racial laws and these various deals and although you have full records for earlier periods, all of a sudden there are very few, like one entry that doesn't say anything and then nothing for three months and then another pedestrian kind of entry and nothing for a couple of months. so, what to make of this? now there are basically three possibilities. one is, for whatever reason he didn't keep a diary then. the other is that pacelli, who we know was one to be sensitive about these kind of documents, when he became pope, had this removed, knowing that it was not something he would ever want seen. and the third possibility of course is when the pope ordered john paul ii ordered the archives ready for schollard.
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it was announced in 2002. it was only 2006 scholars announced in because they were working on systemizing and cataloging. at some point the documents were embarrassing. of course the cause of making pi usx ii a saint is cause of right-wing of the catholic church. anything that might diminish the that possibility is seen as great preokaycation. if i know about the diary, as i think about it is one thing i would most want to know. jim? >> was the secret and cyclical, do we have it, and if we do, was it similar to the so, so. >> there is book you should read the hidden cyclical, a very good book which tells the story and it too is disappointing. just to give you a little bit
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more background so you understand why it is disappointing. the pope had a problem. he appointed this american jesuit without letting pacelli know, without letting anyone in the secretary of state office know but he had to inform the head of his order just because of the jesuit discipline. so the day after, couple days after he met with father la farring, he calls in the jesuit superior general, this pole, ledowsky tells him what he has done. we know from his correspondence the head of the jesuit order's correspondence with colleagues he thought the pope was mad, he usedded word in english, mad, when he heard about this project. he said, among other things what did this american jesuit know about writing in a cyclical? it is quite a developed art. he insisted that more expert jesuits be added to the project and two were french and german.
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the german, the father came from a more traditional shall we say european perspective on the jews. i think he would have some influence but so they go to work. they draft this thing. we only have seen it in recent years and it is in some ways disappointing. so it is certainly is a, direct criticism of nazi racial ideology, aryan supremacy, racial supremacy but in terms of the jews it is certainly a document that would be kind of embehavior asking for the church today or post-second vatican council. i didn't say this but it would be important to say with the second vatican council in the early 1960s this all radically changes. the church rejects its previous demonization of the jews. takes the position of respect for other religions, embraces interreligious dialogue, so forth, all things being rejected before.
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so the, so basically the answer to the question is the encyclical has some good parts but other that is we would regard today as in fact offensive to jews. yes? >> -- speculative counter factualpius xi had been 10 years younger for whatever reason lived for 10 more years, how much difference would it have made? would things have been that much different? is it basically institutional or would it have mattered? >> well the nazi ambassador to german ambassador to the holy see wrote at the time or shortly after his death, had he lived there would have been a break with nazi germany. he didn't say anything about mussolini. little hard to know. it was getting late. i think, this is the importance here. i think the debate has been
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somewhat misphrased in the past. so there has been a lot of attention as you know to the question what influence the popes could have had on hitler. and should the popes have, hitler was catholic after all by birth. should they have excommunicated him and so on? if you think about the relationship between the popes and mussolini it was very different. the pope had huge impact in italy. first of all, 99% of italians were catholic. only a third of germans were catholic. secondly the pope is seen as italian. so the potential influence the pope had in denouncing mussolini and especially, and here's the real rub, mussolini is in this very difficult spot. he wants to make this alliance with nazi germany but italians hate the germans. they just had gone to war with them. so they had hundred of thousands of dead at the hands of the germans not all that long before. plus, hitler is not a sympathetic figure to the italians. he is announcing aryan supremacy
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and italians have a pretty good idea that doesn't include them. so in mussolini trying to convince italians to get on board with this alliance with nazi germany he has a challenge. and that is why, if the pope had clearly spoken out against this, said, that no good catholic could follow, could embrace hitler, i think it would, i don't know what impact it would have had on germany but i think it would have had a big impact on italy. so if the pope were younger and more vigorous, not in, not in a position to have his will thwarted, i think maybe that would have been different. so maybe the fate of italy would have been different. i wouldn't say there wouldn't have been a second world war or holocaust. that may be going too far. yes? >> yes, i would like to ask a
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question that the, i understand that the catholic, the italian government didn't send the jews away and that the, the catholic government was very much for jews? >> italian government was for jews is that what you're saying? >> yes. >> number there is this narrative that somehow there wasn't anti-semitism in italy and church opposition to the racial laws. there was one opposition to one aspect and only one aspect of the racial laws, one of the racial laws in the fall of 1938 said a converted. >> , who had been baptized, become catholic should be treated as a. >> , not as a catholic and therefore could not marry legally a catholic. the pope was irate at this for a couple of reasons.
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one of course it went against church doctrine, that if you were baptized you should be considered a catholic able to marry another catholic. one of the major provisions in 1929 had given the church the right to decide for church weddings what a legitimate wedding was which would be automatically registered with the state. so it went directly against the agreement that had been made with such fanfare in 1929. and the complaints to the fascist authorities we know from behind the scenes of material both in the fascist archives and the vatican archives were entirely about this one issue. there was never any vatican opposition to throwing all the jewish children out of the school, firing all the jewish teachers so forth. in fact this was the policy in the papal states until the papal states were defeated in 1870. so, so that i think was the picture that we see. >> yeah.
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piusxii during world war ii is controversial figure and almost enanything mat i can almost. sounds if your research shed new light what he might have brought to his papacy. what baggage he brought. can you give us some sense of, how you would view what he did during world war ii in light of what you know from your research, please? >> yeah i would say, many of you are aware there is lot of pressure of the vatican to open the a can curves. pius xii back in the 19 '60s, concern about alleged silence of pope during the holocaust, failure to protest even though he knew what was happening, this has been a very controversial issue. what thing i think the research i was able to do particularly in
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the 1930s when pacelli becomes secretary of state gives us more insight we get into him once they open the archives. once you're pope you leave very little evidence of your thinking and you, issue, official proclamations and so forth, perform various ceremonial functions. just before then before the 10 crucial years and doctor the maaing years as europe was marching toward war pacelli is keeping a diary. he has huge correspondence which we have access to so i think we really have great insight into him. . .
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how he was not hitler's pope and had no sympathy for nazism which was opposed to his idea of christianity and catholicism. as i show in my book the germans' work for his election, the german ambassador, the nazi ambassador, and was relieved he was elected and certainly the fascists and mussolini were working furiously to get elected pope because again not because they saw him as a fascist or a nazi but saw him as an accommodator. he was someone who would make a deal that as long as the rights and prerogatives of the church were protected, the other thing, he was not going to get
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involved, he assured the german ambassador after he became pope, the first meeting after becoming pope even before being crowned three days after being selected with the nazi ambassador, wanted to assure him the new regime was about -- and many would return to the relationship between the vatican and the third reich. what he said was -- paraphrasing -- i have taken the position that it is not the role of the pope to make decisions about the right form of government, that is a secular matter and i won't take any position with respect to that. my concern is that the church in germany be followed and the rights of the church be protected. other questions? i guess we are done.
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thanks. thank you. >> thank you for joining us. if your interested in having your book signed, on that back wall, we will be set up over here. >> for more information visit the author's web site, david kertzer.com. >> deaths from other major diseases like heart disease, hiv and strokes continue to decline death from alzheimer's and increased 70% in the last 15 years. 5 million americans have alzheimer's and it is rate in 35 years as many as 16 million will have the disease. the third reason i am here simply is to show people they are not alone. so few people share their personal stories, so few people have something to relate